7 tips to keep your dog calm during a storm

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With severe weather warnings and a tornado watch issued for much of metro Atlanta, keeping Fido calm and comforted amid the madness is probably high on a pet owner’s list.

According to experts at WebMD, thunderstorm phobia in dogs is quite common and shouldn't be ignored.

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“Most of the time they don’t grow out of it on their own, and many will get worse with time if nothing is done,” veterinarian Matt Peuser said.

While there’s no easy fix, here are 7 tips to help relax your frightened furball during a storm:

Be prepared.

The best way to be prepared to make arrangements for your dog is to simply check the forecast. According to Pethealth.com, thunder usually occurs in the afternoons.

You can also set up a pet disaster kit, the Palm Beach Post reported. Fill up a waterproof container with Fido's medications and medical records, essentials such as a leash and collar, food, water and dishes for both. Other items to include: a manual can opener, grooming supplies, your pet's blanket and favorite toy, cleanser and disinfectant to handle waste, newspapers or litter, paper towels and plastic bags.

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Be home.

If you know your dog tends to be fearful of storms, try and stay home or arrange for someone to stick around.

Reward calm behavior all year.

According to veterinary behavior expert Barbara Sherman, owners often make the mistake of consoling a fearful dog, but this actually just encourages clingy, panicky behavior.

That doesn’t mean owners should scold their dogs, but instead, train them to settle down on command so that when a storm comes, the dog knows what to do.

Offer distractions during a storm.

Sherman also recommends distractions for Fido during the storm such as offering treats or toys, playing fetch and cuddling.

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Create a sound-proof safe place.

Whether it’s a room in the basement, an open crate or even the bathroom, it’s wise to offer the dog his own sound-proof safe place to come and go as it pleases.

You can figure out what the best place for your dog is by watching where he gravitates during a storm.

Try snug-fitting clothing.

Snug clothing such as the Thundershirt have been known to help dogs cope with anxiety by applying gentle, constant pressure to a dog’s torso, similar to swaddling an infant.

Consider medications.

If Fido is seriously affected, refer to your veterinarian or a veterinary behavior specialist for possible medication.

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